Get the Most From Your Outdoor Space
Outdoor children's play buildings, just add kids and imagination
Q. I wonder if you can advise on suitable surfaces for a children's play area (playhouse, slide etc). We are not so keen on lawn as the shape of the area is long and thin and therefore difficult to mow - what alternative surfaces would you recommend?
A. The easiest material to use is "Play bark" bark either natural wood bark or man made rubber chips selected to be larger and softer than bark chips used as a mulch, the rubber chips are 50-100% the price of bark though won't rot down so may be the cheaper long-term solution. They do wear, compress and get squashed into the soil so may need some eventual topping up, they may also need to be dug up and disposed off at some point in the future rather than rotting away. To be effective it needs to be placed at a depth of 6" / 15cm which means that:
1/ You need a lot!
2/ You need some kind of edging material to keep it in place. I favour rustic logs laid down if I can get them. If not, then rustic fencing posts are good, use one on top of another both nailed or screwed to large pegs knocked into the ground. Log roll could be used or even gravel boards or scaffolding planks. The main thing is to make sure they're supported strongly enough - that's where tree trunks / logs are good, as the children are bound to at least step on them if not make a game out of walking along the edge.
3/ You might want to place a weed-proof membrane under the bark to stop weeds growing through it.